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Why is Sacagawea on the Golden Dollar?

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After researching the decision to place the image of Sacagawea on the Golden Dollar, students will write persuasive essays either defending or opposing this decision.

Coin Type(s)

  • Dollar

Coin Program(s)

  • Native American $1 Coin


The students will write persuasive essays which support or oppose a statement about the Golden Dollar.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies


  • Sixth grade
  • Seventh grade
  • Eighth grade

Class Time

Sessions: Two
Session Length: 90 minutes
Total Length: 46-90 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • Essay
  • Golden Dollar
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Persuasive writing
  • Sacagawea
  • U.S. coins
  • Writing


  1. Ask the students what they know about the Golden Dollar. Make a web on chart paper or on the overhead that links their ideas. Ask questions such as: Why do you think they picked Sacagawea to be on the dollar? Why do they put images of people on coins? Who else do you know who has their image on a coin? (If it doesn't come up in the discussion, mention that "Golden Dollar" is the original name of the Native American $1 Coin before the reverses where devoted to images of Native American history. "Sacagawea Dollar" is an informal name for the coin.)
  2. Have the students read Chapter 6, the history of the Sacagawea Dollar ( This will give the students some history about the coin.
  3. Read aloud this quote from the former Director of the United States Mint:

    The Mint’s director, Philip N. Diehl, decided to invite the public to help choose who should appear on the coin. “Coins [are] not just a way of buying things,” he said about his approach toward the design. “[P]utting images and words on coins. . . .[is] a way for a government to talk to its people and for people to talk among themselves.”

  4. Have the students write an essay either defending or opposing the statement. For research, they can read through the first chapters of the online book.

There are no modification options for this lesson plan.
  • Use the students' essays to evaluate their ability to support their opinions.
  • A rubric may be used to evaluate the essays.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.6 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grade 6
Cluster: Comprehension and Collaboration

  • SL.6.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    • Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
    • Follow rules for collegial discussions, set specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.
    • Pose and respond to specific questions with elaboration and detail by making comments that contribute to the topic, text, or issue under discussion.
    • Review the key ideas expressed and demonstrate understanding of multiple perspectives through reflection and paraphrasing.
  • SL.6.2. Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.
  • SL.6.3. Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: People, Places, and Environment
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • Enable learners to use, interpret, and distinguish various representations of Earth such as maps, globes, and photographs, and to use appropriate geographic tools
  • Encourage learners to construct, use, and refine maps and mental maps, calculate distance, scale, area, and density, and organize information about people, places, regions, and environments in a spatial context
  • Help learners to locate, distinguish, and describe the relationships among varying regional and global patterns of physical systems such as landforms, climate, and natural resources, and explain changes in the physical systems
  • Guide learners in exploring characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth’s surface
  • Have learners describe how people create places that reflect culture, human needs, current values and ideals, and government policies
  • Provide opportunities for learners to examine, interpret, and analyze interactions of human beings and their physical environments, and to observe and analyze social and economic effects of environmental changes, both positive and negative
  • Challenge learners to consider, compare, and evaluate existing uses of resources and land in communities, regions, countries, and the world
  • Direct learners to explore ways in which Earth’s physical features have changed over time, and describe and assess ways historical events have influenced and been influenced by physical and human geographic features

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Applying Knowledge to Language
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Use of Spoken, Written, and Visual Language
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Research
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience. 

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Applying Strategies to Writing
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Effective Communication
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.